Vehicle Transportation Procedures
During the summer months, many schools spend time transporting children to and from field trips. This next section covers transportation procedures recommended for each program.
Qualifications for drivers:
- Must be at least 21 years of age (18 years of age for licensing, 21+ for most insurance companies)
- Must have a valid Texas driver's license
- Must be familiar with the use of a fire extinguisher
Basic rules for driving a vehicle:
- Drivers should always avoid backing up. This prevents the risk of accident or injury.
- Stick to the route or directions that the program assigned for the trip. Do not make exceptions. In the event of a detour, notify the program immediately.
- Cell phones should not be used while operating a vehicle. In the event of an incident and a phone call is needed, the driver should pull the vehicle off the road and into a safe lot to make or take the phone call. This includes blue tooth and earpieces.
- Always allow 4 seconds of driving space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- Check mirrors every 30 seconds.
- When at an intersection with no signs or signals, the driver should always stop, look both ways, and proceed with caution.
- When at a stop light and the light turns green, the driver should allow the full length of the vehicle to gain between you and the vehicle in front of you before you move.
- In the event brakes fail, pump your breaks to build pressure. The driver should read the operating guide to all vehicles to become aware of additional or optional emergency procedures specific to that brand of vehicle.
- In the event the accelerator gets stuck, the driver should not reach down with his or her hands to try to release the accelerator.
- When operating a vehicle, it is not advised to wear sandals or flip-flops. These types of shoes can cause the driver to get the sandals caught in the accelerator.
- In the event of hydroplaning, the driver should take his or her foot off the gas pedal and continue driving straight ahead without applying the brakes.
- Before moving a vehicle, the driver should walk around the vehicle to ensure that no obstacles are present.
- Each vehicle should contain an emergency notebook. Your emergency notebook should include an emergency release document for each child with a current photo, an emergency release document for each adult driving or as a passenger with a current photo, required insurance documentation, emergency phone numbers, and maps/routes to public schools and/or field trips.
- There should be at least one fire extinguisher on each vehicle. These items should be checked monthly.
- Each driver should take a written driving test before operating a vehicle.
- Each driver should take a driving test with the program director before transporting children.
Vehicle Emergency Procedures
If a vehicle is inoperable or unsafe to drive, programs are advised to follow the emergency procedures stated below:
- If you are on the road, get to the safest position you can, as far away from traffic as possible. Park the vehicle with the emergency brake on and turn on your emergency flashers.
- If you have a cell phone or portable two-way radio, notify your program administration immediately with the nature of the problem and your whereabouts.
- Check to make sure all your children are safe and calm. Apply proper first aid if needed.
- Never leave children unattended
- If someone offers assistance, give him or her your program directors business card and inform him or her that help is on its way. Do not allow strangers to assist in vehicle maintenance or first aid for the children.
- If this is a critical emergency, have your emergency binder ready and available for paramedics.
- Do not allow vehicle maintenance while the children are still loaded on the vehicle. Have the children wait in a safe location.
Your first priority is to provide care and support to the children and employees involved in the accident. Accidents involving program vehicles should be handled according to the following guidelines:
- If there are injuries as a result of the accident, 911 is to be called immediately.
- Emergency medical forms are to be given to emergency medical personnel upon arrival at the accident site.
- Name, address, phone number, and insurance information for all parties involved at the accident must be obtained at the scene.
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses to the accident must be obtained.
- Staff members involved in the accident must not admit responsibility or agree to payment terms of any kind. Child Care licensing must be contacted if children in your care are injured.
If there are children in the vehicle at the time of the accident, the first aid kit is available on each vehicle to render first aid as needed. Program Administration at the program must be contacted immediately. Program Management must contact the parents/guardian of each child immediately.
Loading and Unloading Vehicle Procedures
- Children are never allowed to enter or exit the vehicle by themselves.
- Children should be loaded and unloaded at the curbside of the vehicle or in a protected parking area or driveway.
- Children should not be allowed to cross a street any time before entering or after leaving a vehicle unless accompanied by an adult.
- All children exiting the vehicle must be accounted for prior to leaving the vehicle unattended.
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
- The vehicle emergency notebook must be in the vehicle at all times during use and information must be updated before a new child is transported.
- Staff child ratios must be maintained on vehicles at all times.
- The vehicle should not be running. Turn off the engine, remove the keys from the ignition and keep in the driver's possession. Set the emergency brake.
- The driver must exit the vehicle and stand beside the door personally loading the children onto the vehicle.
- Always hold the door so the wind will not catch it.
- As children board the vehicle, identify each child by name.
- Once children have boarded, take roll visually, making eye contact with each child as you check off the children's names on the vehicle roll sheet.
- Visually and physically check seat belts to see that each child is secure and that there is only one child using each belt.
- Take a head count to match roll to identify if children are missing or if you have a child that should not be with you.
- If driving a van, children should never be allowed to sit in the front seat.
- It is suggested that children under the age of six sit in the front two rows of the vehicle.
- Lock and close the door. Never allow a child to do this.
- Driver is to circle the vehicle to ensure it is free from obstacles-especially children.
- Enter the vehicle, fasten your seat belt, adjust mirrors, and recheck that the area is free of obstacles using the mirrors.
- Always try to park in a manner that will allow you to pull forward and avoid situations in which you must reverse.
- Always observe all traffic regulations - use blinkers, always make complete stops, never run yellow lights, and drive 5 miles under the posted speed limit.
Unloading at an Elementary School
- Pull to the curb and unload at the curbside.
- The vehicle should not be running. Turn off the engine, remove keys from the ignition and keep them in your possession, and set the emergency brake.
- Driver opens the exit door. Children should never be allowed to do this.
- Driver exits the vehicle and stands outside the exit door, holding the door to keep the wind from catching it.
- The driver assists children as they exit the vehicle.
- The driver should always remind the children to walk directly into the school.
- Driver should observe the children entering the elementary school before pulling away from the curb.
- After dropping off all children, the driver walks the vehicle to see that no children remain on the vehicle.
- A second adult should come and also walk the vehicle to ensure that no children are left on-board.
Unloading at your program
- The driver walks the vehicle, counting children on the vehicle that are to be unloaded. The number should be written down on the bus log.
- Wake any sleeping children and assist any children that need help unbuckling their seat belts.
- Assist the children off the vehicle.
- Have the children form a line on the curb or sidewalk close to the vehicle.
- Once the children are unloaded, take roll visually, making eye contact with each child as you check off children's names on the bus log.
- Match the head count number to the total count noted on the bus log.
- The children are escorted into the building.
- An adult inside the program then checks roll using the bus log once again.
- The driver returns to the vehicle, walks the vehicle again to ensure that no children were left on-board.
- The driver parks the vehicle in its designated parking space.
NOTE: Never rely on verbal responses from the children. Always do visual checks before marking a child present.
Recap on Successful and Safe Transportation
- Child/Staff ratio must be met at all times. Always try to have two adults on a vehicle if possible.
- Never let a child ride in the front seat of a vehicle.
- Adults and children must wear seat belts at all times.
- First aid supplies are checked weekly.
- Vehicle notebook is checked and updated weekly.
- Permission slips and other forms are prepared for field trips in advance.
- Always visually check the children by name and face. Do not rely on head counts.
- Teachers are not on field trips for their pleasure. Teachers are there to supervise the children and make sure they are safe and having fun.
- Never leave windows down when a vehicle is parked and un-supervised.
- Pre-recorded music is played in all vehicles. Do not turn on the radio.
- Always plan to be back at your program 15 minutes prior to your planned arrival time.
- Your vehicle is a moving billboard for your program.
- Adults are never allowed to sleep on a vehicle or field trip.
- Always follow car-pooling guidelines.
- Always assist children on and off the vehicle.
- Always carry your programs business cards and marketing material.
Tips to car-pooling
- If you have a combination of vans and mini-busses, the bus always takes the lead.
- Adult passengers should have two-way radios to communicate from vehicle to vehicle. Drivers should not have these. Two-way radios are used for car-pooling communication only and not games.
- Program vehicles should always stay in a line and in the same lane.
- When changing lanes, all vehicles will turn on their turn signals. The last vehicle in line moves over first, allowing room for vehicle in front of them to move over, and ECT.
- Always plan ahead for lane changes. Stay in the right lane as much as possible. Remember to always drive 5 miles per hour below the speed limit.
Field Trip Procedures
Things to do with the children:
- Talk to the children about the trip.
- Let the children know what their expectations are.
- Set ground rules.
- Prepare for separation of groups (if applicable).
Things for the teachers to do:
- Know the details of the trip ahead of time. Be proactive to any conflicts that may arise.
- Know the route you will take when driving to your destination.
- Gather and prepare all field trip forms prior to the trip.
- If applicable, gather all lunches and coolers prior to the trip. Make sure all lunches and drinks are disposable.
- Always take ice water, cups, and emergency snacks.
- Confirm your reservations.
- Confirm your method of payment.
- Make sure all field trips are posted 3 days in advance. This should include your destination, departure time, arrival time, and any specific instructions for the children (such as socks for skating, swimsuits and towels, ECT.). Field trips need to be posted in at least 3 different locations.
- Staff is in dress code.
Teachers and children:
- Always have eye-to-eye contact with the children when taking roll.
- Take roll every 5 minutes when mixing with the public.
- Program staff members are to accompany children to the restrooms when on a field trip.
- Try to have both male and female staff members on field trips if possible.
- Talk to the children about supervision. Set consequences and follow through, if needed.
- Teachers are always attentive to the children. Avoid distractions.
- Follow all supervision guidelines not only on the field trip, but also in the vehicles.
Teacher's interactions with the children:
- Teachers should always have quality, positive interactions with the children.
- Watch your tone of voice, even when trying to get your groups attention. Remember, you are a professional and must demonstrate professional interactions.
- Staff should have age-appropriate conversations with the children.
- Consider what is developmentally appropriate for all different children in your group.
- Interactions and open-ended conversations take place throughout the entire field trip. This includes on the vehicle and on the trip. Your trip back to the program is a great time to reflect on the positive experience you just had.
- Your interactions and conversations should be productive and educational. Talk about the key experiences of the trip. What did the children learn? What was their favorite thing about the field trip?
- Make sure the children are dressed appropriately for the trip.
- Not only are the teachers setting an example for your program, so are the children. The children should be aware of the appropriate expectations you have for them. Lots of smiles and laughter is encouraged.
- It is important to "talk up" your field trip to the children so that they too can be excited about the experience. Avoid having children on the trip who are unhappy. Appropriate staff interactions can turn any field trip into an incredible time.
- Represent your program in the most professional way.
- Demand high quality from yourself and your peers. Be proud!
- Act, look, and sound like a professional. Remember to control your mannerisms; your body language says a lot.
- Be courteous at all times when dealing with the public. Be proactive with any problems that may come up with payment. If an issue presents itself, the situation should be handled away from the children.
Parent Participation on Field Trips
- Parents are discouraged from riding in program vehicles.
- Always conduct a parent orientation prior to allowing a parent on a trip.
- Criminal history checks must be done on parents before they can assist with a group.
- Parent volunteers cannot discipline the children, not even their own. The public does not know the difference between a staff member and a parent.
- Parents should be free from distractions when volunteering such as cell phones and smoking.
- Parents are encouraged to wear a name badge labeled with "Parent Volunteer".
Health and Safety of the Staff and Children
- Always have water, gator-aid, snacks, first aid supplies, trash bags, emergency books, business cards, and phone numbers of program administration.
- Staff must have emergency information on every child in their group. This should not be kept in a centralized location, such as a vehicle. This information is to be kept with the staff member and available for use at any time.
- Emergency contact and emergency health information should also be on hand for every staff member on the trip.
- Every program should have some type of identification on each child, such as a t-shirt of wristband.
- Don't rely on summer calendars or lesson plans to communicate with your parents. Plan ahead and ensure that every child is wearing your programs t-shirt.
- T-shirts or wristbands should have programs name and phone number clearly printed.
- Never expose a child's name to the public. Nametags or shirts with the children's names on them are never allowed.
- Program is to have extra shirts or wristbands on hand in the event a child comes unprepared.
Third Party Responsibilities
- Do not rely on a host or hostess to conduct or manage a field trip.
- When a host is involved, staff must still interact, supervise, and take roll. This is not the time for staff members to take a break from responsibilities.
- Do not allow a host to discipline a child.
- Be courteous, professional, and respectful to your host. Always thank them after your visit. Make sure to get your host's name so that you and the children can send a "thank you" card after the trip.
Other points of interest
- Parents should never be allowed to drop children off or pick them up on a field trip. This can cause supervision and ratio issues.
- Cell phones are for emergency use only.
- Socializing of the staff should not be allowed. Staff should focus all attention on the children.
Every field trip can be turned into an educational experience.